With the economy in its shaky state, more and more people are ending up in the unemployment line while those still employed are increasingly concerned about their own security. As far as immediate pay raises and promotions go, you'll likely have to weather the storm first, but there a number of methods to best position yourself and your career for brighter times ahead.
In a tough economy lay-offs and pay-cuts are nearly inevitable. For those who stick around a company after a harsh round of lay-offs, duties will certainly shift. Be open to change and your career will benefit. If you can be adaptive and proactive, as opposed to negatively reactive, you will stand out from the pack. Your supervisors will look to you for help corralling the troops.
Learn everything you can about your company and how its products are made. Study what's goes on in the office every day and how your company does business. Memorize the products, know the trends in your industry and have a finger on the pulse of your competitors. Regardless of whether it's relevant to your job or not, becoming as knowledgeable as a VP sets you apart, even if you are in an entry-level position. Make yourself someone to watch.
Volunteering for tasks, both big and small, makes you invaluable to a company. If you have room on your plate, volunteer for projects that will help you build new skills and experience. If your team, like many staffs across the country, is under-staffed your willingness to take on extra duties will not go unnoticed. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin and if you find yourself too swamped, ask your manager to help you prioritize tasks or lessen the load. If you can't take on too many extra duties, choose visible tasks like giving a presentation. Speaking in public on behalf of your company will help you be seen as competent, knowledgeable and self-confident.
Networking can greatly benefit your current job situation and is crucial to your long-term career success. At networking events you may be surrounded by peers in your industry and higher-ups from your company and others. The conversations in which you engage will likely lead you to new ideas and innovations on current practices. The collaborative environment can refresh your mind and lead you to approach your current job with more energy and passion. And of course, it doesn't hurt to form new relationships within your industry so if you are handed a pink slip, you'll have somewhere to start when you search for a new job.